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Florence doctor took the stand accused of killing two people by over-prescribing opioids

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HAMILTON -

A Florence doctor took the stand accused of killing two people by over-prescribing opioids.

People were riveted as the doctor took the stand.

Before he took the stand, another doctor testified for the defense regarding the use of opioids.

"I graduated from UCLA Medical School in 1974," said Dr. Christ Christensen.

Doctor Christensen spent a bulk of the afternoon speaking about his childhood and early medical career.

But, most of the morning was spent examining a pain doctor from Los Angeles, who at first looked like he was going to be a prosecution witness.

Prosecuting attorney asked the pain specialist Dr. Forest Tennant a few questions about a prior phone conversation.

Prosecutor: "Five days ago you said the care of his patients was atrocious correct?"

Dr. Tennant: "By these standards. I didn't just say atrocious and stop. I said by these standards in the 2016 guidelines."

Prosecutor: "And you used the phrase laughable correct?"

Dr. Tennant: "Yes, probably."

But, Dr. Tennant told the court that treatment practice has changed over the years.

He said that before 2016, the microscope on opioids was not nearly as acute.

"These new opioid formulations with FDA approval, universities behind it, and professional organizations all behind it. They said there is not much risk and go ahead and prescribe them and that's what Dr. Christensen and thousands of doctors did," said Dr. Tennant.

Dr. Christensen said that he is empathetic for chronic pain patients because his father was one.

"I just looked back at my own life and what it had cost my family. The divisions that it generated that existed from that time on and I realized in a very palpable way there were effects that untreated pain had on the dynamics of a family," said Dr. Christensen.

The prosecution will continue its cross examination of Dr. Christensen tomorrow.

The County Attorney said that he expects the trial to wrap-up Friday.

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